When I was pregnant with my daughter, I became what I like to refer to as a “Parenting Research Analyst”. I read, I googled, and I learned what to expect during my pregnancy, labor, and delivery. I knew what to expect when I was induced, and even when I had a c-section. I did my homework so I could be prepared for anything that could possibly come my way.
What I wasn't really prepared for was what happens once you've actually had your child. I heard and read about sleepless nights, c-sections, and proper latching techniques. What I wasn't prepared for was judgment, competition, and embarrassment. Here is a list of what you can expect once you've already had your child.
1. You might pee on yourself forever. Okay,so this is an outlier on my list, but I feel it needs to be addressed. This common issue is much worse than I anticipated. By my estimation, my preschool daughter has better bladder control than I do. I feel like all I do is pee all day long. I'll purposely go to the bathroom before I leave my house, and then proceed into the “pee-pee dance” about thirty minutes later. To put this in perspective, I had a c-section, so apparently the method of birthing doesn't really matter.
2. You will be judged by others, and you better get used to it. When I was childless, I had a certain anonymity to my life. This isn't to say that I wasn't judged by others, but it's not even in the ball park of how much I've been judged since becoming a parent. From the way I dress my daughter, to the way I supervise her, to how she acts, to what activities I allow her to do...there is always someone who will tell you you're doing it all wrong. When my daughter was a little bitty, I used to get very angry about this. Now, I generally roll my eyes and go about my day...most of the time.
3. Other parents will compete with you, and they'll pit children against each other. This is just a sad truth of parenting. There is always a parent out there that feels the need to compete with you, and by extension, your child. If your child walked at 10 months, their child walked at 9 months. If your child said their first word at 6 months, their child said it at 4 months. In fact, if I'm to believe many of the mothers I see on various social media sites, there's a lot of Mensa babies currently crawling around.
Try to ignore them, and if they won't let up, black hole them. Realize that someone that feels the need to compete so openly, and to use their children as a tool for competition, is probably very insecure.
4. There is always THAT mother, and she'll make YOU feel insecure. We all know that mom, don't we? The one that can do any project or recipe on Pinterest perfectly? The mother that cooks awesomely wholesome meals in the shape of their child's favorite cartoon character? The mother whose every picture looks like it's done by a professional photographer? Yes, we know her.
Here's the deal. She, like you, has days where she's so exhausted that she is counting down the minutes until her kids go to bed. Like you, she puts her yoga pants on one leg at a time. She just isn't showing you that faucet of her life. She isn't necessarily trying to make you feel like shit, or outdo you.
Another thing to consider is that this mother, of which you might roll your eyes at and huff about, might be making you act or feel like the mother outlined in example number 3. That's perfectly understandable. She might make you feel like you're not doing enough for your child, but you more than likely are. Unless your feeding your kid wet cat food from a bowl on the floor, you're doing the best you can for your child.
5. Your child will embarrass you, and that's perfectly normal. There are many mothers who will tell you that they're never upset or embarrassed by how their children act. I'd like to call those people liars. If I sound harsh, I'm sorry. It just doesn't ring true. The honest truth is that relatives can be quite embarrassing, and those feelings naturally extend to your children.
Perhaps you're in a store and your child, who is almost always well behaved, decides to throw the mother of all temper tantrums. Maybe every other child is listening to directions in a craft class, but yours is rambling and giggling like a crazy person. Maybe your newly potty-trained child had an accident in the most inconvenient place... and you forgot a spare set of clothes.
I've been there. It's embarrassing, and it's stressful. It's also very normal to feel that way. Don't beat yourself up for feeling that way. It will pass, and everyone will come out unscathed from the ordeal.
This is not an all inclusive list, but it's some of the things that you'll probably encounter as a parent. We've all been there. Just take it all in stride. Just be the best parent you can, and don't sweat the silly shit.
Now, back to my pee-pee dance.